Often creative people can be accused of living in a bubble (creative or otherwise), meaning living in our own world of our own making. We may seem preoccupied, when others are laughing at a joke or making small talk. We may not react to emergencies in a highly reactive way that others feel is warranted. Maybe we hold something back, or think in wiggly lines instead of straight ones, maybe we don’t see the obvious because we are looking at more than the obvious. Maybe we wander off on a sidetrack that looks interesting, instead of sticking to the path. Like the clichéd absent minded professor, our mind is elsewhere and we’re deemed not applying it to the here and now, like we should be according to others. We’re not sticking to what they see and how they see it. We are seen as living in a bubble, and if we look at what that means to others, opinions are astonishingly varied, as you can see here
We’ve got everything from negative interpretations of needing to stay safe and avoid the harsh realities of life, to avoiding facing fears and personal challenges, someone who isolates oneself, someone whom is naïve about how the ‘real’ world works, perhaps someone who is living in a rosy tinted bubble like this:
OR conversely, it’s someone who refuses to let the world’s disorder and dysfunction affect them, someone who has evaluated the outer world, who knows what’s going on in it, warts and all, can relate to a lot of it, but finally chooses to live in the world of them. More like this:
I’ve got a friend who frequently asks me ‘How is it in the world of you?’ It’s a catchphrase of hers, because she and I know that is what identity is really all about. We went on a counselling skills course together, learned about the most popular of the contemporary forms of therapy – namely Person-Centred, developed by Carl Rogers. Here, there is a humanistic perspective of understanding that we all, as individuals, behave in the world in response to our own personally experienced reality. The way we experience the world and respond to it is a result of our individual history, culture, expectations and needs. It’s a subjective experience which cannot be fully understood by anyone else, and that is what the therapist has to accept, respect, connect with, try to understand and empathise with to address the client’s conflicts. The power always remains with the client to solve their own problems, their way, with the therapist’s help. So I would argue, that essentially we all live in our own bubbles in that we are all bound to see the world around us differently. We create our own reality, because we are all unique. It doesn’t mean we ignore or disregard others, or seek social isolation, or don’t feel pain for others, or don’t enjoy company, or that we don’t feel the suffering of those around us, or don’t feel our own – but we have our own reactions, views, and challenges which are specific to us to deal with. Our bubble is the lens through which we see and evaluate the world around us.
When we are creative by nature, the bubble can become more significant.
And lo and behold, it would seem to be more socially acceptable to live in a bubble if it qualifies as a creative one. Here’s a post by, Annette Gendler, on the creative bubble, where she quotes from Twyla Sharp’s book, The Creative Habit:
“Being in the bubble does not have to mean exiling yourself from people and the world. It is more a state of mind, a willingness to subtract anything that disconnects you from your work. It doesn’t have to be antisocial…
“Even within our distracted existence we have to cultivate a version of the bubble if we want to work freely and with maximum fluency in making connections and harnessing our memory–and to maintain all this is a habit. It is the ideal state where nothing is wasted, where every detail feeds your art because it has nowhere else to go.” (p. 238-239)
This sums it up so well for me, and I would argue that anyone who is driven by a passion in which they find their very life meaning, has to operate within some kind of bubble to get the work done. That you need to be in your bubble to paint for yourself, write for yourself, as we are meant to in a focused state, a little like meditation, a kind of private space with our own integrity at work, in which the later realities and opinions of the market place cannot afford to impinge or prick the creative bubble .
As the ancient Chinese philosopher, Zhuangzi, says ‘Cherish that which is you and shut out that which is without, for much knowledge is a curse’ –maybe because that knowledge can get in the way of your creative work, or instil unhelpful doubts and confusions into your life generally?
And the Taoist philsopher, Lao Tzu, says: At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.’ So what’s wrong with that kind of bubble?
Maybe Graham Greene’s maxim: of the writer needing ‘a splinter of ice in the heart’ (from his autobiography A Sort of Life, 1971) is a way of addressing the kind of objective detachment we experience in our bubble. We observe and listen, even if we are in the middle of events as they unfold. Greene goes on to say there will always be a part of us that has stepped aside, which enables us to portray in some way and write about the human condition. It’s that little bit of detachment that enables the writer to store up experiences and draw on them later. And I would add that this way of being may have been in your nature long before you became a creative person, but that you were blueprinted that way all along, that you were just waiting for the trigger to put it to use.
So what about people that like to burst other people’s bubbles or rain on their parade? (And I’m sure we’ve all experienced one or two attempts at this – ‘I don’t want to burst your bubble, but’…, and ‘yes, but life’s not like that..) Well, they are often projecting their own resentments, jealousies and insecurities onto us. If they’ve had it tough, they want you too as well. Imagine how it must feel to do this to someone, to want to deflate someone…to puncture someone’s meaning. It’s coming from a very negative place and speaks volumes about them, doesn’t it? You could argue they are trying to avoid you getting hurt, but we all have our own lessons to learn, that is part our growing – it’s our life, after all.
Well, if you stay true to yourself and live by your values, with the inner you matching the outer you, as well as modifying your expectations and those somewhat perilous attachments, and as long as you can accept yourself, then no-one will have the power over you to burst your bubble. And know there are many of us bubble dwellers out there supporting you. Have a good journey!
(Comments welcome, as always :>))
Yummy bubble pics courtesy of Pixabay, I couldn’t help picking quite a few!